The first sign that yesterday (14 November) was “funny” was when our neighbours hit the snooze button 4 times on their alarm from 6am. We normally hear them clunking around in the morning.
Then the post office was closed. No sign out the front to explain why, but a lady who worked in the sorting room had an explanation. Not that we could understand what she said.
The big post office in Badalona was also closed, as were the shops. Still no explanation.
Our next stop was to the Renault Eurodrive office to return our car at the end of its lease. The factories in the area were shut up and the area seemed abandoned.
The Renault man enlightened us to the General Strike. The whole of SpaIn was on strike. Of course, we later found out that the strike was called for the whole of the European community.
Of course this had implications. The Renault man dropped us at the airport as per the contract. It was abandoned except for a few lost souls. Even the toilets were closed – on strike.
No transport. Instead it cost us €20 to get a taxi into Barcelona. Just to find everything shut.
After two hours of walking we came to a hotel restaurant that served food. The jovial Asian waiters were more than happy to serve us.
With an hour to kill before essential services like limited train services resumed, we managed to find a bar where we could have a refreshing ale. It quickly “closed up” and we were forced inside and out of sight of the strikers who were likely to force a shut down of the bar.
Those businesses that did try to break the strike did so with their shutters half closed, just in case strikers wanted to force them shut.
As we left the bar at 5:30pm masses were flocking into the centre of town. Not the rebel rousers you would see at home. Older couples and young families with children were among those going to put a voice to their frustrations.
We quietly made our way home. We have no say in this conundrum. It is for Spain and her people.
And why the strike?
Many services in Spain are reduced, in some cases to nothing. Austerity measures and extremely high unemployment is creating mass frustration.
Some say it is too early for the effects of the new government to be felt, but the unions believe progress is too slow.
We really don’t see much of its effect on a day-to-day basis, but this, like the 11 September rally for Catalonia Day, gives a voice to their frustrations.
Our time here is to gain an understanding of the Spanish lifestyle. It is relaxed and pleasant. It is also frustratingly complex. Bars are open one day and not the next. Supermarkets may shut during siesta according to the day of the week or the season.
Spain, like other southern European countries has a lot going for it. Roads are good. Cities are beautiful. Beaches compete with ours in Australia. Living, for us, is cheap. People are friendly and helpful. The tourists keep coming and spending.
I do hope there is a plausible solution at the end for them.